The body of a third Greek passenger on the Norman Atlantic ferry was identified on Saturday, soon after investigators boarded the ship for the first time. Rescue crews recovered its black box data recorder but were unable to do much more than that due to the residual heat from the ship’s fire.
The dead passenger was identified as Gerasimos Kazantzidis, according to the Greek Embassy in Rome. Greece believes that nine more Greeks, and 18 people in total, are still unaccounted for following the ferry disaster.
It is thought that some were truck drivers who remained in their vehicles and were killed when the fire broke out on the Norman Atlantic’s vehicle deck earlier on Sunday, a few hours after it had left the Greek port of Igoumenitsa.
The ferry was towed for 17 hours across the Adriatic to the port of Brindisi, where it docked on Friday. Investigators boarded the ship on Friday evening and recovered its black box. However, the fierce heat on board, as the fire was still smoldering, meant they could not access the vehicle deck.
“For the time being, it is unfortunately impossible to get inside ... for safety reasons, we cannot verify firsthand what’s inside,” said prosecutor Ettore Cardinali, according to Agence France-Presse.
Firefighters say they will not start searching for bodies until the blaze is fully extinguished but could not give an estimate of when that would be.
“There are cars and trucks and other things that are still slowly burning, which ... could continue for a long time,” Brindisi Fire Commander Michele Angiuli told reporters.